Ex-cop's attorney asks for minimum sentence

Elias Hubbard
December 7, 2017

A white former police officer who shot an unarmed Black man to death in the back as he fled a traffic stop never had any "racial animus" toward minorities in the community, his attorney said Monday.

The ruling comes as part of federal sentencing proceedings for Michael Slager. Morgan said he felt that Slager had an above-average tolerance for stress and didn't diagnose him with any disorder related to memory loss. Prosecutors believe the videos depict the officer's callous behavior.

Slager pleaded guilty in federal court in May to violating Scott's civil rights by shooting him without justification.

But he indicated he will sentence the 36-year-old Slager to a minimum of 235 months, or almost 20 years, in prison.

Norton's decision in a federal court in Charleston opened the way for a sentence of 19 to 24 years in prison for Slager.

Words used by both Walter Scott and Michael Slager were the highlights of testimony from experts brought on by Slager's defense team, during day two of the sentencing hearing.

Slager shot and killed Scott on April 4, 2015, while Slager was an officer with the North Charleston Police Department.

The sentencing hearing could last several days. Before he does that, he will decide whether the shooting was second-degree murder or manslaughter. A bystander's cellphone video of the fatal chase went viral, and Slager was charged with murder in a case that became a rallying point for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Slager theoretically could have received a life sentence, but most legal observers had expected a sentence in the 12-to 15-year range if Norton had categorized the crime as voluntary manslaughter. The audio is muffled, but the officer can be heard yelling at Scott to get down on the ground. Scott was hit five times in the back.

"Shots fired. Suspect down". Morgan also testified that Slager's varying accounts may be the result of being involved in a high-stress situation.

Prosecutors' first witness was the man who recorded the shooting on the way to his job at a barbershop.

That includes use of Slager's stun gun, which the former officer says Walter Scott grabbed and turned on him, causing Slager to fear for his life and shoot in self-defence.

In 2016, the case ended in a mistrial.

For three days, attorneys representing the federal government and a former SC officer charged in an unarmed black motorist's shooting death have presented technical testimony to a judge considering how much time Michael Slager should spend in federal prison.

"We shouldn't be deprived of justice because of the sloppiness of the government's investigation", Savage said, calling into question DNA and stun gun examinations done by state police. Last year, Scott's relatives reached a $6.5 million settlement with the city of North Charleston.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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